In the eighth part of Monstrous Regiment, Polly and the other recruits continue have their beliefs challenged. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For talk of war, imperialism.
THIS JUST KEEPS CHANGING, WHAT IS THIS BOOK, I’M READING FOR NONE OF IT.
There’s a crucial point made here that helps understand why perspective is so damn important to stories:
“Angua, I want to stop these stupid people fighting so that we can all go home, and if that means allowing the occasional pigeon to have a crap on my desk, so be it.”
First of all, this defines Vimes’s motivation. He’s an outsider in this country, and he’s an outsider to the Borogravian-Zlobenian war. Thus, his interest is in peace, but not even necessarily because peace is the moral thing to achieve. He just wants this all to end so he can go home. You don’t really even get a sense of whether or not he or Angua find either side right or wrong. It’s just all one giant mess. At least from Angua, we get her sense of pity for the Borogravians, whose religion has so tightly controlled their lives that they’re now stuck in a real-live dystopia, and they’re desperate for anyone to get them out of it. (Hence their attachment to the Duchess.) On top of all that, there’s a war? How could anyone not feel sorry for these people and what’s been hoisted upon them?
Then there’s Prince Heinrich. HOLY SHIT, THOSE SCENES WITH THE ZLOBENIANS MAKE A MILLION TIMES MORE SENSE BECAUSE HORENTZ IS ACTUALLY THE PRINCE. And since they aren’t familiar with newspapers, and they lack the context to understand why it was important that de Worde took their photo, they have no idea that THEY CAPTURED THE PRINCE OF THEIR ENEMY AND IT’S NOW A HUGE NEWS STORY. Which is so fascinating to me! For Vimes and Angua, it’s an amusing anecdote and a possible complication to the war.
Yet Pratchett paints a much different picture for Polly and the other recruits. There’s no glory or celebration for what they’ve done. No, they continue to learn just how messed up their country is, how much this war isn’t a glorious thing, how the lies about it all have kept it going rather than bring it closer to an end.
Let’s start with Strappi. It’s possible that he’s not responsible for all the random thefts around the group, but it certainly fits that he’d be petty and vindictive right before he abandoned ship. It also fits that he stole the items so he could survive his trip to the front lines. Of course, there’s a possibility that they’ve got this all wrong. What if there’s something else going on? What if it’s related to the inns being burned behind them? I STILL FEEL LIKE THAT’S AN IMPORTANT DETAIL. Of course, it could also have been a hint of the absolutely horrifying discovery that they make here, too. What if someone on their side is responsible for this? A Borogravian killed those charcoal makers to survive, and it’s a thought that these recruits can barely fathom because it’s so messed up. Truly, it speaks to the seriousness of this disaster. That is what people are resorting to now that this war has taken such a toll on Borogravia. It’s horrifying, y’all! And this is how Jackrum reacts to the shock that spreads through the group:
“Yes, but they have just seen a couple of badly mutilated bodies,” said Blouse and shuddered.
“Good practice for ‘em, sir. They’ll see plenty more.”
Well, that’s not comforting in the slightest. But Jackrum isn’t interested in comfort. Rather, he still believes that, despite everything that has happened, Borogravia can still win the war. I don’t see how that’s possible, honestly, especially with how bad things have gotten. But I am guessing that Jackrum refuses to budge on this point, and this is only gonna get worse, y’all.
Mark Links Stuff